“Music is My Special Friend”
By Candice Wheeler
As one of The Doors’ most relatable and honest songs, “When the Music’s Over” acts as a sermon for music lovers. Its truth makes it unique, and while most Doors songs feature Jim Morrison’s out-of-this-world lyrics that are not always meant to be understood, the message of this song is clear: if you claim you have nothing — you don’t. Music will always be your friend…until the end.
When I was a teenager, I was going through issues that no young kid should ever have to go through. My dad’s heavy drug use was exposed on my sixteenth birthday, and my family was completely falling apart. Like many people, I used music to escape. More specifically I turned to The Doors. “When the Music’s Over” was one of the first songs that trapped me in their music’s mystical web of fascination. The lyrics spoke directly to my heart and my mind. No matter what bullshit I was going through, I knew I could always put on my headphones and drift away for a bit.
It’s fitting that “When the Music’s Over” closes out The Doors’ second album, Strange Days. The album’s eerie, psychedelic vibe grows and intensifies until its ending release when everything disembarks. There is so much going on in this song and yet it sounds so poetically in synch. The melodies of the band flow through the song like waves, and Jim is able to glide alongside them with ease. I believe he loved jamming with the rest of The Doors on stage, singing freely with no boundaries. He loved the soul he could expose throughout that kind of musical freedom.
“When the Music’s Over” is a perfect example of how well The Doors fed off one another. John Densmore’s explosive beginning drum smash forces out Jim’s spastic cry, then Robby Krieger’s guitar slithers in; blending with Ray Manzarek’s jazzy keys. Jim completely loses himself in the music and goes off into a world all his own, just like we do when we listen. I remember playing my “air drums” along to the tune like a mad woman and mimicking Jim’s scream to a tear while my high school friends and I were disgustingly downing a bottle of Jim Beam in my friend’s parents’ basement.
Though many of my friends thought my borderline obsessive reaction to this type of music was strange, I did have one soul sister who completely understood how I felt. It all started when we worked on a project about The Doors’ first album for our English class. Instantly we were hooked. We used to burn incense addictively and listen to album for hours. We’d go to our local record store and collect CDs, posters and any other sort of memorabilia just so we could hold it in our hands and call it our own. It was music that was so behind our time but completely relevant to our lives. It was an outlet that connected us, and made us think creatively in a world where we felt so alone.
As I’ve grown older, my love for The Doors has become even more intoxicating, and the biggest reason I relate to their music is simple — I’m a sucker for words. I used to try to decipher the meaning of their songs; of Jim’s poetry, but as I grew more familiar with it, I discovered that’s not really the point. Instead it has begun to challenge my own deep thoughts; my own heartfelt emotions. It has led me to write, and to understand a part of my soul that I somehow always knew was there.
Above all things, The Doors’ have taught me never to hold back. “When the Music’s Over” specifically taught me that it’s okay to go crazy and rock my troubles away. There’s something incredibly special about music’s action/reaction effect. It does in fact intend us to “dance on fire” and let go of life’s distractions. Jim’s words were deep and meaningful in relation to that time — something I believe isn’t as obvious in today’s music scene. I feel that if more people looked to music to change — not just the world but themselves, it could serve as a healing power and connect us all in a way that is relevant, unexplainable and reassuring.